21 July 2009

National e-health discussion paper

First step taken towards national e-health system
Dept. of Health and Ageing: 13 July 2009
In an out-of-session communique, the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference has announced that the first step has been taken towards a national e-health system. National consultations are set to begin on the legislative framework to underpin the governance, privacy and agreed uses for national healthcare identifier numbers essential to a secure national e-health system. … > full press release

Related information: Healthcare identifiers and privacy : Discussion paper on proposals for legislative support, Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council, Department of Health and Ageing, July 2009

This paper describes and seeks comment on legislative proposals to support the establishment and implementation of national healthcare identifiers and enhanced arrangements for the privacy of health information.

All Australian governments recognise the potential benefits of changing how information is accessed and shared across the healthcare system through the use of electronic communication and information technology to ensure that information is available when it is needed to provide patient care.

The adoption of this technology, commonly described as e-health, is expected to transform the way in which healthcare providers practise and consumers interact with the health system and improve the safety and quality of healthcare and patient outcomes.

To achieve the most from e-health, a national approach is needed to ensure that the frameworks and key infrastructure components are coordinated and aligned across Australia.

Two elements that are regarded as central to the successful implementation of a national e-health system are the establishment of national healthcare identifiers for consumers and providers and the establishment of robust regulatory arrangements to ensure appropriate safeguards for patient health information and encourage participation in e-health initiatives.

Considerable work has been undertaken by all governments in relation to both the development of national healthcare identifiers and to address health information privacy issues nationally.

National Healthcare Identifiers
In 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a national approach to developing, implementing and operating systems for individual and healthcare provider identifiers as part of accelerating work on electronic health records to improve the safety of patients and improve efficiency for healthcare providers.

The design and development of national infrastructure for national healthcare identifiers is being undertaken by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), a company established by governments to develop better ways of electronically collecting and securely exchanging health information.

updated: 29 August 2009

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